Bin Laden’s driver: guilty or not?

6 12 2007

ahmed.jpgSalim Ahmed Hamdan used to be a driver for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Now, he is in the Guantanamo Bay charged with conspiracy and supporting terrorism. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

But now, Hamdan’s lawyers are trying to prove that their client does not fit the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant.

Hamdan, a Yemeni citizen, worked as bin  Laden’s driver for $200 a month but denies being involved in any terrorist attacks.





The case of Muslim journalists in prison

20 11 2007

I have been following up with the news about the detaining of two journalists – Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein who are detained in Guantanamo and Iraq respectively.

sami-bilal.jpgAccording to BBC News, the US military has recommended criminal charges against Bilal Hussein after allegedly finding additional evidence that Hussein is a “terrorist media operative” who infiltrated the news agency.

Hussein was detained after his Pulitzer prize winning pictures were surrounded by controversy.

Read Michelle Malkin’s post on Hussein and his pictures.

However, AP CEO Tom Curley has said that the US military just wants to detain Hussein because they don’t want any news coming out of Anbar province.

“There’s a new leadership in the defence department, but the same callous disregard from justice,” Mr Curley told the BBC.

The AP lawyers working with the case have also said that the charges made against Hussein are not convincing.

“Whenever we ask to see what’s so convincing we get back something that isn’t convincing at all,” said AP’s lawyer Dave Tomlin.

In another case, Sami al-Hajj, aka prisoner 345, was has been detained under charges of being an “enemy combatant” has been on a hunger strike since January 7, 2007.

Columbia Journalism Review had an eye-opening piece this past summer about al-Hajj and his conditions.

In a diary of his hunger strike that he wrote for his lawyers, al-Haj noted that he now weighed 167 pounds after twenty-one days of fasting. Once the weight of a detainee drops to 80 percent of his normal weight, he is required to be “enterally fed,” that is, fed liquids through a tube.

Rep. Keith Ellison, a first-term Democrat from Minnesota, has called for a trial or release of al-Hajj.

“If he’s a bad actor, prove it. If not, let him out,” the congressman told The Associated Press.

The Jurist has a brief piece about of these journalists and reports from the AP and Committee to Protect Journalists.

Tayseer Allouni, another Al Jazeera journalist, was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to seven years in prison after the Spanish court found him guilty of collaboration with al-Qaeda following the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

The police had alleged that Allouni used his status to interview Osama bin Laden.

On whatever grounds these journalists might have been held for, the bottom line is that journalists as well as media agencies have a colossal challenge ahead of them.